Hands On Nashville Day 2016 is made possible in part by generous supporters like Dell and their volunteers, like Stephanie Jensen. Stephanie plays a leading role in connecting its Nashville team to service opportunities.
Leading up to Hands On Nashville Day, we spoke with Stephanie about why she loves volunteering, her experience as a HON Day Volunteer Leader, and the importance of volunteering with co-workers.
How did you get involved with volunteering?
I started volunteering back in 1998 when I was in college. Honestly, it was a really great way to meet new people.
I grew up in a household where we valued giving back in ways that weren’t monetary, because there is always a way to give time. So rather than sitting in front of TV we could go out and do something.
How long have you been involved with Hands On Nashville?
I started volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, as well as different projects, back when I was living in Alabama….When I moved to Nashville I had to find new things to do… I went to work with a realtor association and someone brought up Hands On Nashville.
We always love to hear that. What did projects did you get involved with?
I literally went to the website, and looked at things that were interesting… I love history, so I got involved in cleanups with the Nashville City Cemetery Association, and continue to be involved there….I just kept going back for more, and I began volunteering on Hands On Nashville Day as a Project Leader in 2006, 2007 and 2008.… I’ve continued to be involved since then, and last spring I was asked to help lead volunteer activities with Dell. Now I continue keeping people involved.. And [at Dell] we wanted to be involved with the schools, and that’s how we became involved with Hands On Nashville Day.
What has been your favorite volunteer experience?
There have been opportunities that I found through Hands On Nashville, which now I volunteer directly with the organization. Originally, I volunteered through Hands On Nashville for Salvation Army’s Angel Tree. It’s one of my favorite projects since I get to do all of the pieces – signing people in, signing people out, buying the gifts, and then of course giving the gifts out.
Is there a Hands On Nashville Day memory that stands out above the rest?
I’m always fond of the memories where I had younger volunteers come out to see what we were are doing in their school. One year [when I was a volunteer leader], we built a garden with a new pathway and plantings in one of the high schools….Before we started it was just a big bunch of grass in the middle of the buildings – so we planted the garden and built a few picnic tables and made it a nice place for kids to hang out. One of the youth volunteers was with her parents. She was very excited to see it happening at a place where she would be spending time.
Dell is a Hands On Nashville Day Anniversary Sponsor this year. Why do you think it’s important for companies to support volunteerism?
Beyond anything else, as research shows, people who are involved with their community outside their place of business have a higher enjoyment of their job.
At Dell, we want people involved because we want people to be happy at their jobs, and [volunteering] helps that. Some employees spend 40 hours a week working in one building. Volunteering is a way for us to say, ‘How about we give you the opportunity to meet other people you don’t know in the office, or another building… maybe it’s someone you want to talk to about your career path! Or maybe you will end up meeting your next door neighbor who you didn’t know worked at the same office…’ which has actually happened!
It’s about employee improvement and we’re always on the hunt for opportunities to do that. That’s why we don’t just have one or two a events a year…We’ve had 12 projects that we’ve sponsored this year in Nashville, and we have teams that go out to help beyond that, too.
That’s fantastic. So will we see you on Hands On Nashville Day?
I hope to be there!
For more information about volunteering with your company on Hands On Nashville Day, visit HON.org/honday.